Thursday 26 December 2019

Hungry Hoss’s Best of the Decade 2010-2019

At the end of each year, it’s customary for us blogger types to post a ‘review of the year’ or ‘best of’. However, with 2019 drawing to a close, there’s a unique opportunity look back over the last decade! 

Foodwise, the last ten years have been pretty special for me. I started my blog and its associated Twitter account in 2011 and since this time I’ve been to some amazing countries and eaten some fab food.

During this time, I have been asked to contribute to various national lists and had the honour of being a panellist for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants – something I’ve not told anyone before due to their anonymity rules.

For each year, I’ve selected one ‘home’ and one ‘away’ dining experience. 

2010 – The Fat Duck, Bray
To his day, this remains one of the best and most memorable meals we’ve enjoyed anywhere in the world. 

2010 – Momofuku Ko, NYC 
We dined in some great places in NYC but Ko stands out for its energy and creativity. Due to the no photo policy at Ko, the pic is from Momofuku Ssäm Bar. 

2011 – Sketch, London
A recent recipient of 3 Michelin Stars, we loved Sketch for the décor and food alike. We are long overdue a revisit! 

2011 – Mozaic, Bali
Aside from serving fabulous food in an amazing setting, this meal at Mozaic is the one that cemented my resolve to start the blog.  

2012 – Aulis @ L’Enclume, Cumbria
I’ve enjoyed many, many great meals at L’Enclume and to my mind it deserves to be credited as one of the best restaurants in the world. The experience of dining in Aulis however, was truly unique and special thanks to Chef Dan Cox and Simon Rogan. 

2012 – Pierre Gagnaire, Paris
We had some absolutely amazing food on this trip. Whilst Septime and Le Chateaubriand are probably more “my type of restaurants”, I could not, not choose this meal from the iconic Pierre Gagnaire.

2013 – The French, Manchester
A long time fan of L’Enclume, when Simon Rogan opened in Manchester, I became something of a regular. When Simon departed, his head chef, Adam Reid took over the reins and it remains one of the best places to eat in the city. 

2013 – Tickets, Barcelona
My main prerequisite for a good restaurant is one which serves damn tasty food. Tickets does this in spades and it’s also fun! 

2014 – Lyle’s, London
A long time fan of Chef James Lowe, when he finally opened his own bricks and mortar place I instantly fell in love with a restaurant which has gone on to earn a Michelin star and be recognised amongst the 50 Best in the World. 

2014 – Gỏi Đu Đủ (papaya salad) @ entrance to Lê Văn Tám, Ho Chi Minh
To sit roadside whilst perching my 6ft frame on a 10” high plastic school and enjoy the food enough for it to make this list is testament to the quality of street food which can be found in Ho Chi Minh. 

2015 – Parkers Arms, Lancashire
Some may be wondering why in a year that I’d eaten in more than a dozen Michelin starred restaurants would I choose a place not even listed by the Trip Advisor collaborators, however, anyone who has ever eaten Stosie’s food and enjoyed AJ’s hospitality will know why they’ve earned their place amongst the best of the last decade! It also represents my love of small, family run independents in difficult locations, doing things right with commitment and passion. 

2015 – Mugaritz, San Sebastian
Mugaritz is one of those restaurants which divides opinions. I connected with it from my very first visit. 

2016 – Fraiche, Oxton
My wife and I have enjoyed many, many meals at Fraiche over the years. The prefect, intimate romantic restaurant with sublime food cooked by Chef Marc Wilkinson.

2016 – Romano, Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv is another city which we’ve fallen in love with. The casual dining scene here is second to none. For me, Chef Eyal Shani’s restaurants stand out as the vanguard. Roman is effortlessly cool and hip.  

2017 – The Crown, Burchett’s Green
I love a good, old fashioned British eccentric and I mean this as a compliment when I say that Chef Simon Bonwick is truly one of a kind. His family run pub (restaurant) is a step back in time to when hospitality was about pleasing people and not critics or guides – something not many places do these days (shout out to the likes of Chez Bruce and Guinea Grill for also doing this). 

2017 – Odette, Singapore
We’ve made many trips to Singapore and the food there is amazing – from Hawker Food to High End. Another restaurant to recently be awarded Three Michelin Stars, Chef Julien Royer (who I’ve been a fan of since his JAAN days) and his team offer an exceptional experience on every level. 

2018 – Hispi, Didsbury
I’ve been a fan of Gary Usher since visiting his first restaurant, Sticky Walnut, in 2013. Since the days of #StockWatch, I think what Gary has achieved through his hard work, crowdfunding and canny use of social media is phenomenal. He also treats his staff well, which I love. First-rate bistroing!  

2018 – Raw, Taipei
Another amazing trip to a fantastic city for food. The street food here is amazing and many of the restaurants are world class too. Mume gets a special mention but Andre Chiang’s Raw is a magnificent space and was a pretty special experience. 

2019 – Mana, Manchester
The restaurant which finally won Manchester is first Michelin star for 40 something years. A world class restaurant on our doorstep. 

2019 – Borda Berri, San Sebastian
Uncharacteristically for us, we have only taken one holiday in 2019 – a trip to San Sebastian back in February. This is a town we adore and have been to many times. As I’ve written a few posts about the town, I didn’t write up this year’s trip so I’ve included a post from 2018. The town is home to many of our favourite places to eat but, if I had to pick one, Borda Berri gets the nod. 

Sunday 25 August 2019

Mana, Chef Simon Martin, Manchester, Mancs and Michelin

Mana was awarded a Michelin Star in October 2019 

“Mmmm…” whilst this is undoubtedly a noise that emanated from myself at various points during my meal at Mana, it also represents that today’s post is brought to you by the letter M. 

After an injury put the kibosh on his career as a professional motocross rider, Simon switched his leathers for chef whites. He soon clocked up an impressive CV working for the likes of Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Gilpin Lodge and various stints abroad. Most notably at Noma in Denmark (and Mexico) - working initially on the BBQ section (where they and Mana do most of the cooking for the service).

Many Chefs with star studded CVs open their restaurants to huge fanfare and PR razzmatazz, but to their credit and benefit, I think it’s fair to say that Mana was a relatively slow burner. This undoubtedly gave them time to find their feet before the national critics came knocking (here). As positive reports from “trusted friends” trickled through, it became clear to an often-distrusting Manchester crowd, that this unlikely location in Ancoats was home to “the real deal”.

I promised you that this post was brought to you by the letter M - so let’s talk about Manchester for a bit. You may or may not know that, the Romans named their fort at Castlefield ‘Mamucium’ after a breast-shaped hill (the Latin prefix mamm- meaning breast), from which Manchester took its name. Therefore, Mancs are by definition, tits.  

This brings us nicely onto Michelin. 

Every year, on the day of the red guide’s publication, the local fooderati are perennially left with egg on their faces as, since 1974, the city has been snubbed (some say trolled) by Michelin, when it comes to restaurants earning the much coveted starred status.

I’ve seen posts on social media with people claiming that Mana’s chances of bucking this trend are “nailed on”. I’m not 100% convinced.

If Michelin wanted to be pernickety, they may claim things like: “the mushroom broth should be served a few degrees hotter” and that the otherwise excellent “retired dairy cow tartare would benefit from a more delicate (and therefore better balanced) potato nest”.

On the other hand, even the most ardent Manc-trolling inspector would surely have to agree that certain dishes – such as the broad beans with Banks tomato - would not be out of place on a 3 star menu. 

Mushroom broth with kelp & lavender

Pork skin with cep

Charcuterie – lamb coppa, beef bresaola, duck prosciutto and two types of pork salami

English tostada of malted flatbread with juniper cream and summer flowers

Monkfish liver pate, blackcurrant wood

Lobster, cured egg yolks & spruce

Oyster, chicken fat & peaso (miso made with peas)

Retired Dairy cow tartare, potato, oxalis

Yakitori-style eel & roasted yeast

Broad beans, Banks tomato, elderflower & Exmoor caviar – the magic ingredient here being rosehip

Charred onions, fermented barley & kelp fudge

Sourdough bread, cultured butter

Barbecued greens seasoned with a paste made from dehydrated scallops & beeswax

Hogget fed on seaweed, salad

Conference pear terrine, sheeps milk mousse, sorrel

Grilled rose ice cream & caramelised rice


Saturday 5 January 2019

Parkers Arms - New Year’s Eve Game Menu #top50gastropubs

Traditionally, my wife and I never do much on #NYE. However, traditions can change and this year (last year?) brought, what I believe will now be the start of many New Years’ Eves spent at one of our favourite dining spots, the Parkers Arms. 

Especially if they continue to put on the incredible value New Year’s Eve 3 course Newton Game Supper (just £35 in 2018).

After a few bar snacks, this is what we ate (my choices were hearts, venison & ice cream):

Newton Game Bird Hearts Brochette Taco on whole-wheat tortilla & burnt cauliflower puree

Whitby Crab on Sourdough Toast with tarragon mayonnaise

Roast Loin of Newton Venison with autumn hedgerow berries sauce with dauphinoise -potatoes, wild girolles & Lancashire black kale

5 Spice Roasted Crown of Wild Newton Duck with orange sauce, confit duck leg, 5 spiced carrot puree and dauphinoise potatoes

Seville Orange Marmalade Ice Cream with spiced bread crumb

Regional Lancashire Cheese Plate with Newton green apple chutney

A sausage for the dog. 

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